Many fail to recognize all of what Jesus came to do when He was born of a virgin. Jesus had several things to accomplish while He was here on earth. Some readers of the Bible ignore the fact that Jesus came to make the law plain. The evidence for this is found in the book of Isaiah.
“The Lord is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.” (Isa. 42:21)
The verses in this chapter are not referring to a normal man. Read the entire chapter and this fact will become apparent. These verses are prophetic, an explanation of what was to come (verse 9). God was explaining to Israel through the prophet Isaiah that there would be someone who God is well pleased with who would “magnify the law and make it honourable.”
Jesus is the only one mentioned to have this status with the Father. Read Luke 3:22. This means Isaiah chapter 42 can only be referring to Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Matt. 12:15-21 quotes the beginning of Isaiah 42, saying that Jesus’ actions were a fulfillment of the prophecy. Compare Isa. 42:1-3 and Matt. 12:17-21.
Exalting the Law
As discussed in a previous installment (Stop Ignoring What Jesus Said: Observe My Commandments), Jesus did not do away with the law of God. In reality, He came to fulfill the law (Matt. 5:17). Isa. 42:21 tells is that Jesus would magnify the law. The word magnify is translated from a Hebrew word meaning to exalt. (Please be sure to research this for yourself). To exalt means to praise or glorify. One of Jesus’ tasks was to praise and glorify the law of the Father.
Read through the four accounts of the gospel. Throughout each account, Jesus promotes the keeping of the spirit of the law of God. The best example of this is found in Matthew chapter 5 through chapter 7. Jesus also exalted the law every time He corrected the scribes and Pharisees.
If Jesus exalted the law while he was on earth, we must also give due praise and respect to God’s law. David, a man after God’s own heart, shows us the proper attitude towards God’s law in Ps. 119.
“O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” (Ps. 119:97)
How to Handle Enemies
All the previous was written to provide context for the important message that is to follow. Jesus used the law to show us how to deal with every issue that may arise in our lives. Though He gave very specific examples, we have to learn how to apply the principle of His teachings to our everyday lives.
Now let’s zero in on something Jesus said that is ignored all too often.
“Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:43-48)
Remember, Jesus is talking to His disciples, not the masses. He corrected something that the disciples may have heard and been taught by others. Some try to explain these verses as changing the Old Testament law. When Jesus quotes scripture He says, “It is written” or “have you not read.” In this case, Jesus is addressing the false teaching that Jews were to hate the Gentiles, but love the Jews. (Jonah had the same problem). Nothing in the law recorded by Moses says such a thing. In fact, Lev. 24:22 says there should be one law for Israel and the stranger. The law says to love thy neighbor as thyself in Lev. 19:18, 34. This means Israel is to love strangers equal to themselves.
If we apply this law to the church of God, we are to love those who are outside of the church. Even though many outside of the body of Jesus Christ act as enemies of those within, we still must love them. If you really love someone, you will want to see them come out of sin. Love does not encourage lawlessness or excuse it.
“But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44)
If you have enemies, you must bless them. Pray for those that use you. Why? Jesus tells us that we should do this because of the Father in heaven. This is the way God wants us to be. Though many only pray to God when they are desperate, God still pours out blessings upon them. Jesus did the same. Many in the multitudes only followed Him to see miracles, get healed, and be fed. Many were only following Him to use Him. Jesus still had compassion on them. These same people turned on Him and supported His crucifixion.
Applying Jesus’ Words
“For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?47 And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?” (Matt. 5:46-47)
It is important that we acknowledge that God’s law is about character. God wants us to emulate His holy righteous character. How can we do that if we hate those that hate us? Remember, the world hated God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ first (John 15:18).
Do you have enemies at work? Pray for them. Do neighbors talk about you behind your back, but ask you for things? Continue to salute them and pray for them! Let the love of God given unto you by the Holy Spirit spread unto others (Rom. 5:5). Pray that the Father shows them the errors of their ways and brings them into repentance. This is the godly way to deal with those who are ungodly.
When it comes to character, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matt. 5:48)
Remember that God wants us to live peaceably with all of mankind whenever possible (Rom. 12:18).